How To Turn Conversations into Opportunities

At “Conquer Summer Networking: The Art of Effective Conversations,” we dove into stories and tips on how to use networking to your advantage in an approachable and positive way.

We started off the night with a presentation by Sebastian Rea, who shared his real life example of how effective networking can help you land your dream job.

Throughout his life people told Sebastian that choosing a creative career path was risky, but he continued to follow his passion. He spent years researching the field and started working at 13. At 17 he interned at SilverCup studios which gave him the opportunity to be on the set of incredible shows like Sex and the City and Sopranos.

At 18 he began as a volunteer at the Tribeca Film Festival where he met the people he works with today. Thanks to his dedication he was asked to intern at the Festival two years later and stayed with them for almost two years. Finally, Tribeca Film Festival hired him as a Content Operations Coordinator immediately out of school this past December.

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Sebastian sharing his story

6 Tips for Becoming a Great Intern

Research:  New York City is the hub of culture and entertainment. Look for events that correspond with your field of interest. This allows you to build connections and meet interesting people.

Social Skills: Smile and approach people, look them in eye, engage, and be enthusiastic. Never be afraid to tell the people you meet what you hope to accomplish.

Use Your Resources: Use your school’s Career Development Center, even after graduation. They can help you polish up on resume and interview techniques and their services are free.

Try things out: If you aren’t exactly sure where your passions lie, take a few internships to explore your options. Sebastian once took a marketing internship that he did not enjoy, but this was actually a good thing because it helped him discover he did not want to pursue a career in marketing.

Social Networks: Make social networking tools work for you. Using sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr can help you keep in touch and connect. Remember to keep your profiles clean and professional! Klout is a site that actually tallies up your presence and impact on various social media sites. Sebastian called Klout  “the mother of all social networks” and suggested keeping track of your Klout score.

Internship Etiquette: When working an internship make it is your top priority, even if it’s unpaid. The skills and connections you make can help you greatly in the future. If you really enjoy your internship always ask to say longer and ask about future job prospects. Many organizations prefer to hiring interns because there’s less training involved.

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Our second speaker was Arden Pennell, Programs Director at Business Insider. Arden has a degree was in Art History, but she admits the degree itself never got her a job, it was only the connections and people she met that have gotten her to where she is now.

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4 Tips for Networking Success

Look at Networking as a Conversation: With a conversation you never know how it will unfold, but all the conversations we have define what is possible for us, whether it is a romance, gaining a job or building connections.

Be who you are: Many feel that networking forces your to prentend to be someone you aren’t in order to look good in the eyes of the person you connect with. Arden suggested instead to look at networking as an open space of possibility- you don’t need to force something to happen. Show up as yourself and just discover this person.

Don’t feel small: One struggle with networking is we can see the person we talk to as being larger-than-life important. Remember, anyone who has reached success in their life also has many people who helped them reach that point, and they understand what it feels like to just be starting out. You don’t need to feel small, we all have something valuable to offer.

It’s ok to ask for something: In Arden’s job she hears about 10 no’s for every yes response when reaching out to others. Don’t be afraid to ask for something for fear of rejection, the worse that happens is someone says no. This leaves you in the same situation as before, but at least you tried! Another thing to keep in mind that many people actually enjoy helping others. People have been in your position before and would like to help.


Guests during our “Centering and Opening and Connecting” Exercise

Arden lead the group in a centering experience, “Centering and Opening and Connecting.” We closed our eyes, grounded our bodies, focused on our breathing and pictured times in our lives where we have helped others or others have helped us. After a few minutes we began talking to someone new in the room. The exercise brought a calmness to the room and helped attendees talk more comfortably with new people and relax.

When networking, always be yourself and confidently share who you are with others. People will be impressed with someone who is passionate, and if you stay in contact you never know where the connection may lead.

What are your favorite networking tips? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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